So, a serious post — how Twitter and Facebook can make posts better and reduce drama

I’ve decided to use this account (although it’s normally just for showing off what my God to Butt extension can do) to post an actually serious idea that could reduce the amount of harassment and abuse on both social networks, as well as generally make the user experience better. It would be especially useful for Twitter due to character limit, which amplifies the problem.

Many times, users’ postings are misinterpreted, misunderstood, or taken out of context either unintentionally or intentionally, or otherwise turn into more serious things than they are — and this leads to abuse, harassment, mobbing, and similar situations at worst, and to angry disagreements at best.

I propose a system that allows a person to set a given set of emoji icons on tweets and posts without changing character count, that gives people the option to indicate context and intent if the icon is clicked on/moused over.

Some examples are as follows:

A warning sign that covers the entire tweet/post and must be clicked through to view: “This post/tweet contains possibly triggering content. (Specify triggering content via writing into box). Please be aware before reading or engaging with the user.” Similar to LiveJournal’s LJ-cut, and Twitter’s current “sensitive content” but for individual postings.

A smaller warning sign attached to each tweet/post: “This user may BE a trigger in interaction due to status (specify why — e.g. white, extremely sex-positive or sex-negative, active duty military/police among many examples one could write in). If you are triggered by such individuals, be careful in interacting with this user.”

A sad/teary face: “This user is experiencing emotions of sadness and/or grief. Please understand they may respond irrationally and/or not perfectly choose their words.”

A music note or book: “This post/tweet is a quotation of a book/poem/song lyrics, which are/are not (specify) the user’s actual views.”

A jester hat: “This post/tweet is a joke.”

(Unknown, choose one): “This post/tweet is meant to be sarcastic or satirical, and is most definitely not the actual beliefs of the user.”

A question mark or magnifying glass: “This post/tweet is speculation or rumors and may or may not be true until further is known.”

An angry face: “This post/tweet is venting/a rant. The user may be currently angry/upset and needs to be approached with discretion — the words may be hyperbolic or exaggerated.”

(Something that signifies leisure or being off the clock): “This post/tweet is not a professional opinion on behalf of the user and/or the user’s employer.”

(Something that signifies being away) “This user is currently offline, away, or engaged with other business, and may not immediately reply. Please do not take this as a sign of being disrespected or ignored.”

Talking emoji: “This tweet/post is part of an ongoing discussion between two or more individuals. It may be part of a wider context, please view the discussion or ask for clarification to understand.”

Woman emoji: “This tweet/post/discussion is intended as a discussion between women regarding specifically women’s issues. Male users are asked not to participate/to use discretion in participating (select which one you want).”

NO or circle cross emoji: “This tweet/post/discussion is an internal matter between (group). If you do not belong to (group) you are kindly asked to not participate and to begin a similar discussion elsewhere that is open to everyone.”

(And I’m sure there’s some others that could be put there, but this is just for starters…)

While there is some truth to the “intent doesn’t matter/context doesn’t matter” in that context and intent doesn’t reduce the harm created to a specific person, both do matter in that they can show whether harm was intended in the first place (and being made to consider one’s intent can make one consider whether one is being harmful) and lead to more thoughtful responses and more thoughtful actions in the first place.